The High Level Group on European Democracy - chaired by Herman Von Rompuy - will support CoR in giving local and regional level the voice and influence it deserves
Local and regional leaders adopted a resolution on the Conference on the Future of Europe (the Conference) at the 144th CoR Plenary session and debated with Herman van Rompuy, former President of the European Council and Chair of the newly established High Level Group on European Democracy (HLG) on the CoR's perspective for the Future of Europe and the CoR's participation in the Conference. The HLG - an independent advisory body whose mission is to support the CoR – will provide strategic political analysis, focusing on the challenges for local and regional authorities. It will work closely with CoR members, notably the Conference of Presidents and members of the CoR delegation to the Conference.
CoR President Apostolos Tzitzikostas said: ''The Conference on the future of Europe offers to citizens and their local and regional authorities an occasion that we cannot miss. Regional and local leaders are not only key in closing the gap between Europeans and their common institutions, but they also are powerful tools to enrich the democratic essence of the Union. I believe there is room within the existing Treaty's provisions to improve governance and better legislation. The CoR's, with the support of the High Level Group on Democracy, led by President Van Rompuy, will use this opportunity to shape the best tools for a better Union, which must be able to act, react, protect, empower and deliver in accordance to the needs expressed by its citizens . Our Committee has put its emphasis on territorialising the Conference, aiming to give to the local and regional level the voice and influence it deserves in this important process. Our 9 May local dialogue in Strasbourg will mark the territorial dimension of the Conference, that needs to go beyond Brussels and capital cities."
Herman Van Rompuy, Chair of the CoR High Level Group on European Democracy, stated: " European democracy is about all levels of governance. It is both a value in itself and an enabler of a Europe that protects and empowers. Democracy must deliver and respond to the needs of the citizens, and the very existence of the EU depends on this ability to deliver. Democracy is in crisis globally, at European level and in the Member States. It works best at the regional and local levels where it is most closely connected to the needs of citizens, has the longest tradition and has the highest level of trust. At a time of digital revolution and changes in society, democracy must also reinvent itself, improving and modernising at all levels. The Conference on the Future of Europe provides an opportunity to develop this reflection at the Union level, and the CoR's High Level Group on European Democracy, which I am happy to Chair, will look at how to better involve local and regional authorities as building blocks in strengthening and improving European democracy from the bottom up. Our added value will be to look for original and innovative solutions that work, targeting results that ensure the EU delivers on its promises and objectives through local and regional authorities and the CoR ."
The European Committee of the Regions is committed to engaging in the Conference on the Future of Europe in four ways. First, the CoR is represented in the Executive Board of the Conference. In this body, as part of the initial task of defining the Conference structures, the CoR is working to ensure the Conference plenary is built on solid democratic foundations and includes an appropriate number of elected representatives from regional and local parliaments and councils alongside representatives from the European Parliament and the national Parliaments. Second, the CoR is organising local dialogues in the Members States to contribute to the Conference's outreach throughout the EU and feed citizens' inputs in the Conference. Third, the CoR will organise a series of debates in its Plenary sessions and commission meetings and adopt opinions on topics relevant to the work of the Conference throughout its mandate. The next European Week of Regions and cities and the CoR Summit in Marseille will be key moments of this process. The setting up of High Level Group is the fourth element of the CoR's work towards promoting the territorialisation of the Conference, with the objective of strengthening European democracy.
Just before the launch on Europe Day of the Conference on the Future of Europe by the three institutions, the European Commission, European Parliament and Council of the EU, and to mark the need to territorialise the Conference, the CoR will organise a local dialogue on May 9 in Strasbourg with the three French territorial associations, the French CoR delegation, the City of Strasbourg and with elected representatives and citizens of regions, cities and villages from across the European Union.
The creation of the High Level Group on European Democracy (HLG) was endorsed by the CoR Bureau in December 2020 following a proposal of the Conference of Presidents of the CoR. The HLG is composed of seven European "wise men and women":
Herman Van Rompuy , former Prime Minister of Belgium, and President Emeritus of the European Council;
Joaquin Almunia , former European Commissioner for Competition and for Economic and Financial Affairs;
Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse, Professor of the University of Warsaw;
Rebecca Harms, former Member of the European Parliament (MEP);
Silja Markkula , President of the European Youth Forum;
Maria João Rodrigues , former Minister for Qualification and Education of Portugal and MEP; and
Androulla Vassiliou , former Commissioner for Health and for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
The Conference on the Future of Europe will be officially launched on 9 May 2021 and should reach conclusions by Spring 2022.
Programme of the local dialogue in Strasbourg on 9 May
Link to the event
This event is listed on the Conference multilingual online platform .
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